03 August 2019
We’re approaching three months since the 2019 Eurovision Song Contst and thinking back to Tel Aviv, and watching the shows again, in ultimately proved a good event. Somehow, they always do. So many years we whine over the endless release of underwhelming songs, only to forget Eurovision is a TV show, it’s a package, and with the grand final, 2019 delivered. Ignoring one or two of our personal favourites that might have missed, all the best songs made it through, we had great winner, and an exciting vote. If you like to see people set up to be humiliated, it was an even more exciting vote.
New Televote Reading System
Having now watched the vote a few times, and read the opinions of others about the new format, I’m firm in the mind I don’t like it. In fact, the only real advantage I see with it is the TV cameras can be fixed on the artist in advance so their reaction can be captured immediately their score is revealed. Remember, the traditional system was to read the lowest televote first and the highest one last, whereas now the televote is read in order of lowest to highest of the jury vote. The surprise before was who would get the score. Now the surprise is what score is given. As we saw with both North Macedonia, and especially Sweden, who were the last two revealed and presented as possible winners, the only surprise was a snake surprise. Look up Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom if you don’t know that reference. Seeing John Lundvik’s shock at the humbling score still leaves an unsavoury taste in the mouth and, to me, it’s far more exciting learning as to who gets the score. Curiously, no national finals adopted this new system so it’s strange Eurovision itself is being used as an experiment. Perhaps it’s worthwhile persisting with the new system for another year or two, as it might have been an irregular situation this year.
Good news is the recent trend of falling ratings in Australia – ironically, since Australia started participating – has paused. The 5am live grand final averaged 166,000 people (a peak of 240k when announcing the winner) while the replay on Sunday night was 246,000. Last year was 208k and 198k, respectively. So it’s up about 6000 in total on last year. Of course, it’s way down on the 595k in 2013 that watched Sunday night (only a delayed telecast then), while Australia’s special “one off” appearance in 2015 attracted 263k in the morning and 592k at night.
There’s little information about the semi finals, which means they performed poorly. SBS will always trumpet good figures. The only figures released each week by the ratings companies are for the top 20 watched shows, so we need to rely on journalists mentioning Eurovision in general stories on the week’s ratings to get any idea. The only mention was the second semi final attracted 237,000 for the repeat (on Friday night). The first semi was repeated Thursday night. For context, around 250k will get a show into the top 20 on a weeknight, while the most popular shows are typically the 6pm news on two channels that get nearly a million viewers each while the most popular show, The Voice, gets 1.1 million.
Mr Eurovision Awards
The Cool Vibes Awards for Best Song
My three favourite songs all along were Germany, Belarus and Netherlands, and there was a slight reshuffle with Netherlands, Germany and Belarus finishing top 3, with North Macedonia close behind. Germany suffered for being quite limp at Eurovision why Netherlands managed to add a small wow factor to make their song extra memorable. The lack of a wow factor was always Arcade’s potential weakness, as typically you need much more to win Eurovision than simply a nice song sung nicely. So it’s Arcade by Duncan Laurence as the best song, with Sister from S!sters next, then Like It from Zena in third and Proud from Tamara Todevska in fourth.
The Goodbye To Yesterday Award for Best Presentation
Despite the concerns of getting a group dynamic working well on stage, Norway’s Spirit In The Sky by KEiiNO managed it, and turned something a bit on the bland side to something really memorable and a runaway televote winner. Speaking of memorable, so as was Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke with Zero Gravity and her zero gravity space theme. It was wise to go this approach ahead of the more abstract presentation at Australia Decides. It’s also hard to ignore Zena’s acrobatic dancers and energetic display for third and, on a second look, I really enjoyed Moldova. While we’d seen sand art before at Eurovision before (Ukraine in 2011), Anna Odobescu managed to tie in her performance of Stay with the actual sand art, including a moment where she interacted with the artist and later turned into sand and vanished into the house.
The Tornero Award for Best Artistry
Easily this goes to North Macedonia. Tamara Todevska managed to lift a song forgotten by most people to one impossible to forget. She simply stood there in a stunning green and black dress, with reflections of herself in the background, superb lighting and backing vocals, and sung. No surprise she won the jury vote. Obviously Netherlands proved very artistic, while third pick I’ll go for Serbia and Nevena Bozovic with Kruna. Again, another artist that simply stood there and delivered, and added some excellent flourishes with the electric guitar moments. Israel’s Kobi Marimi with Home was another that showed great artistry, not to forget emotion!
The Open Your Heart Award for Best Pure Song
This is purely about the song and nothing else! I’ve loved Germany (S!sters with Sister) from the start, and still do. Likewise with Belarus and Netherlands, they’re my next two. Subsequent to that, I’ve since began to really enjoy Moldova and Montenegro (D mol with Heaven). In terms of simply listening to the songs, 2019 is an excellent year! I still have about 30 songs on my phone.
The Lenna Kuurmaa Award for Best Voice
Anna Odobescu from Moldova. While nothing too much captured me this year, she had quite a pleasing “throaty” feel to her voice. Similarly distinctive was Katerine Duska from Greece, while Alexandra from Norway had a nice clean sound. Best of the boys would be Kobi Marimi from Israel and John Lundvik from Sweden.
The Polina Gagarina Award for Best Vocals
Srbuk from Armenia. Her vocals were one of the key reasons I always loved the song, and she delivered in Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, the song was a sleep walker for so long, only bursting into life towards the end, so most people probably didn’t notice, and it cratered in the second semi final. Contrast that to Jonida Maliqi from Albania, she captured the audience with her powerful vocals from the start and became a surprise finalist. Tamara Todevska from North Macedonia is next then Anna Odobescu from Moldova. Anna might be higher if not for some occasional and annoying pronunciation of vowel sounds like “eye” and “ay”.
The Igranka Award for Biggest Surprise
Obviously North Macedonia. Like most people, I dismissed this as almost no hope to reach the final, and not only did it prove my favourite song from semi final 2 along with Norway, it proved one of the best of this Eurovision. This was the first time North Macedonia reached the final since 2012 and only the second time since 2007. Note the photo on the background at the end was Tamara with her daughter. While the scoreboard said otherwise, for me, Israel was another that really surprised with a grand performance. Serbia was the other surprise – especially with superb use of lighting and screen graphics. I’ll give a shout out to Oto Nemsadze from Georgia with Keep On Going. While his song didn’t hold up, he delivered it really well. Similarly with France’s Bilal Hassani with Roi. A really nice presentation with the “uniquely challenged” (is that the politically correct term?) dancers. Azerbaijan brought some interesting robotic and laser affects, thanks to Chingiz and Truth.
The Lost And Found Award for Biggest Disappointment
Armenia. While Walking Out was always a tenuous proposition to qualify for the grand final due to the structure of the song, Srbuk hurt it further by walking out on it almost literally on the stage. For a song that lacked so much energy or engagement until the very end, to simply appear alone on stage only enhanced its lack of connection. There was even a scene where rehearsal footage of empty stands was used in the performance. Was this to symbolise the audience so bored that they walked on her already? It may as well been! In the video she had dancers, so why not at Eurovision, at least at the end. Quite simply, she tried too hard to be artistic, and often this means confusion for the audience. Estonia repeated their recent trend of trying to do too much to their songs, often with unnecessary raised vocals and silly facial twitches or appeals to the audience, and it fell flat. Victor Crone’s Storm was already a nice, soft and well balanced song, so why do you need to start screaming sections of it? I expected a bit more from Belgium and Russia. Wake Up by Eliot was by the same writer as Blanche’s City Lights of 2017, and all they do was some silly drums? As for Sergey Lazarev’s Scream, the mirrors and overall presentation still make no sense. Of course, I can’t forget S!isters from Germany. The moment I heard they were not taking the revolving platform to Tel Aviv, I knew much of song’s essence would disappear as the platform was a great visual representation of the swirl of emotion within the song.
The Piret Järvis Award for Hottest Girl
Before Eurovision I had Alexandra from Norway, Zena from Belarus and Srbuk from Armenia. It’s still the same three, except Zena in first after her eye-popping Orange Carpet outfit.
The Victor Crone Award for Hunkiest Guy
With a new title holder for the category, replacing Michal Szpak from Poland, obviously it’s the man from Estonia… or Sweden. Latvia’s Jurij Veklenko in second and Russia’s Sergey Lazarev in third.
The Nina Sublatti Award for Best Outfit
I must go again for my girl Zena from Belarus, especially with her ultra high white boots complete with her name written on them. She actually took two outfit options to Tel Aviv, the other being a multi-coloured graffiti-themed outfit, which probably didn’t contrast quite as well as the white one. Estonia’s Victor Crone kept it simple with his black leather jacket, while Nevena Bozovic from Serbia stood out with her tight black dress and metal spikes on her wrist.
The Marija from Eye Cue Award for Worst Outfit
Conan Osiris from Portugal was a disaster all round, with outfit, song and performance putting this as one of the worst Eurovision entries ever. Hatari from Iceland are obvious inclusions, while I’m still trying to understand the point of Ireland’s Sarah McTernan 1950s diner outfit and theme for her performance altogether.
The Zena Award for Best Personality
This was a period of low motivation for me due to the loss of my mother in mid April, and goes to prove there are some things more important than Eurovision. Much more important. I only bothered to follow a few people on social media and barely looked at any interviews or anything. Following Zena from Belarus was probably enough anyway, as she was always doing something, was quite funny in interviews, and provided an interesting insight into the life of a 16 year old in this modern era of constant social media engagement. Recently, she just got herself a hairless cat. A girl once told me she loved hairless cats and I said I’d be happy to shave my body hair. Zena’s was so much fun she’s the new title holder for this award, replacing Sennek from Belgium. Curiously, Sennek was known for her cat, Molly, during Eurovision last year, and sadly Sennek hasn’t been so interesting since. I can’t recall the last time she showed Molly. I might have to dump her.
The Stacked Shipping Container Award for Best Postcard
Even though the idea of getting the artists dance around various places in Israel was novel, there’s nothing too distinctive or innovative about individual postcards. So the winner here is all about location, location, location. That goes to Estonia at Tel Aviv beach. Greece and their well choreographed routine at the Jerusalem Van Leer Insititute is next, then Romania at Mount Hermon.
The Still Annoying As Crap Vocals I’ve Every Heard
Recent years I’ve added a special one-off category to rant on a particular song, and this year it’s Poland. From the very first howling note of Fire Of Love by Tulia, my body starts convulsing, I start getting a headache, and want to start throwing stuff at the TV. I’ve given it quite a few chances, and even allowed it finish a few times, and still don’t fathom the appeal of this style of singing. To make matters worse, underneath this racket is a quality song and arrangement crying to be appreciated.
The Best And Worst Of Interval Acts At A Single Eurovision
This year a second one-off category. Other than the entertaining interview before her performance, Madonna’s appearance was lamentable and a total waste of time, and that’s coming from a Madonna fan! Now for the best: Shalva Band. No need to say anymore.
Detailed award references on the About page